Going Beneath the Waves as Fiction Writers

Fiction writers are like ocean divers.   The watery depths run deep and dangerous, the pressures are intense, the hazards myriad.   And there is no guarantee of anything being found of interest to those on shore.  However, the silence and mystery of exploration itself becomes addictive to the writer.  One eagerly awaits the next plunge into the depths.

Agents and editors are back on the boat, hoping you’re going to resurface with a pearl or a find a sunken galleon.  But they don’t go beneath the water themselves (unless they also write or have written fiction for publication).  So the deep ocean is this mysterious place that they never actually experience or have to survive in.

Their boats tend to cluster around places that are well-known and feel safe and predictable.   No “Here be dragons.”   This is to be expected.  Publishing is a business, not a scientific endeavor.

So at times there’s a culture clash–what a writer needs to survive as a “diver” over the decades is different from what those in the boats and on shore need.   Different personality, different set of skills.   That’s why the advice of fiction writers who’ve survived in the business for decades can be invaluable–they’ve been in the depths as well, have known many writers over the years, have learned how to survive.   And they’re sympathetic to just how addictive those oceanic depths can be.

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